FAYETTE — The Alternative Organizational Structure 97’s proposed budget for 2013-14 increases spending by 1.2 percent.

AOS 97 Superintendent Gary Rosenthal said the AOS will use surplus funds to cover the increase, so the budget will not result in higher taxes for property owners in Fayette and Winthrop, the two towns that make up AOS 97.

Residents of the towns will vote on the budget next month. The AOS provides central administration for the two municipal school districts, including the superintendent’s office, the business office and the special education director, whose salary is shared with Winthrop.

Fayette pays 15 percent of the AOS budget, and Winthrop pays 85 percent. The town school boards are still working on their own budgets.

The AOS 97 school board unanimously approved a $385,019 budget on Monday. That’s $4,704 more than the $380,315 that Fayette and Winthrop are paying this year.

About three-quarters of the increase is a result of adding $3,442 to pay the portion of school employee retirement contributions that the governor’s proposed biennial budget would make the responsibility of school districts.

School board Co-Chairman Ike Dyer, of Winthrop, said word from the Legislature seems to change daily about whether the change to retirement contributions or other proposals will actually become part of the state budget.

“We’ve budgeted for the retirement costs,” Dyer said. “It’s easier to withdraw it than put it in after we’ve had a budget meeting.”

The AOS budget also includes a 2.5 percent raise for employees.

Rosenthal noted that the increase in the budget reverses the trend of the past few years, during which the AOS budget has gradually declined from about $400,000.

“You get to a point where you start to flat line,” he said. “You make cuts, you make adjustments, you consolidate positions, but you get to a point where you can’t make many additional cuts.”

The town meeting-style referendum will take place May 6 at Fayette Central School.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

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